Tough love: Johns Hopkins proposes a bold new plan

by David Alm December 20, 2013

Tom Waits once said, “It’s not that the world is over-populated; it’s just that everyone wants to live in the same places.” He wasn’t wrong, but his logic was specious. There’s a reason that millions of people crowd into Mumbai, New York, and Beijing: opportunity, or the lack of opportunity in the places they left. […]

Read the full article →

The problem with academia — in pictures

by David Alm September 25, 2013
Un-Hired Ed: The Growing Adjunct Crisis

The problems facing academia today — a growing adjunct labor force, shrinking opportunities for tenure and secure employment, lack of benefits and below-poverty wages — are hardly breaking news. But it’s alarming to see the situation presented so clearly as in the infographic below. Take a moment to consider the facts. It’s a story playing […]

Read the full article →

The partial victory of Gen. Petraeus’s $199,999 pay cut

by David Alm July 19, 2013

It’s said that the politics in academia are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low. But sometimes, the stakes are very, very high. To wit: When the New York Times reported in April that the former CIA director, David Petraeus, had been hired by CUNY to teach a single course in the university’s […]

Read the full article →

The tarantula and me

by Rebecca Lehmann September 16, 2012

I was on my way home from the art fair when I saw the two tarantulas. My husband and I recently moved to a small town in north Texas so I could take a job as a Visiting Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts college. My previous experience with Texas was limited to one […]

Read the full article →

PhD programs, meet the 21st Century

by David Alm January 16, 2012

At the annual MLA convention in Seattle last week, humanities professors and university presidents gathered to discuss something they know all too well: dissertations. It’s safe to say that everyone there had written one, holed up for years in the process of jumping through that final, enormous hoop towards the ultimate prize: a PhD. But […]

Read the full article →

When academia becomes a novelty act

by David Alm January 10, 2012

This news is sort of last-week, but it’s been on my mind. Charlie Trotter, the famed Chicago restaurateur who helped ween that city off its diet of hot dogs and milkshakes, introducing farm-fresh vegetables and elegant presentations at his posh restaurant on West Armitage Street, has decided to shut it down this August. His reason, […]

Read the full article →

What to do about student loan debt?

by Rebecca Lehmann November 15, 2011

In a recent series of opinion articles on The New York Times website, various thinkers ponder the wisdom and efficacy of the changes to student loan debt repayment proposed by Obama: that borrowers be able to consolidate loans at a slightly lower rate, that Income Based Repayment plans be made more accessible, and that loan […]

Read the full article →

Follow my lessons, not my footsteps

by David Alm November 2, 2011

Last week I received an email from a former student asking for a letter of recommendation for graduate school, and I had no problem saying yes. He had taken three courses with me in three years, and been one of the best students I’ve had in my eight years of teaching. He is a gifted […]

Read the full article →

An education, not a credential

by David Alm October 17, 2011

Imagine taking a class on n on-Euclidian geometry. Now imagine that your professor doesn’t know anything about geometry at all, let alone an obscure, archaic branch of it. Inste ad, she h as a PhD in art history. But imagine, too, that this is an extremely rigorous class, at one of the oldest colleges in […]

Read the full article →

Screw your spirit of inquiry, make us lots of money.

by David Alm July 20, 2011

Executives at Deutsche Bank in Germany thought they had a brilliant idea: give two German universities about $17 million over four years, starting in 2007, to fund a program that would really give something back. But not to society, exactly. Back to Deutsche Bank. The Quantitative Products Laboratory was housed at Humboldt University and the […]

Read the full article →

Most hated poems

by Rebecca Lehmann July 3, 2011

Poetry is a genre of writing whose audience is generally limited to its practitioners. That is, the largest population of readers for most practicing poets is other practicing poets. Poets like to get together and bitch about this, bemoaning a lack of education about poetry in elementary and high schools, or the over-intellectualization of poetry, […]

Read the full article →

“Feeling postcolonial?”

by Annie Murphy May 22, 2011

That’s how my professor of Postcolonial Studies began each class last fall. I’m not especially sure how we would feel postcolonial—in fact, a lot of people would say that a group of graduate students at an elite university couldn’t come close to feeling what it’s like be a citizen of a postcolonial nation. Yet I think […]

Read the full article →

If a tree falls in the forest …

by Annie Murphy May 6, 2011

I wrote something potentially (academically) dangerous earlier: “If a professor speaks and if nobody listens, did the professor speak?” I didn’t intend this as a condemnation of professors; quite the opposite, I hoped pull in the common adage, “If a tree falls in a forest …” to illustrate the disconnection between the so-called ivory tower […]

Read the full article →

Commencement: now what?

by Rebecca Lehmann May 1, 2011

On Friday night I officially finished my PhD in English at Florida State University. I’ m entering into one of the worst acade mic job markets in recent history, with a slim chance of finding a position teaching in a university. Perhaps needless to say, it’s been hard to maintain hope that the degree I […]

Read the full article →

An academic, a journalist, and a copywriter met on a sidewalk…

by David Alm April 12, 2011

Just about every time I have a conversation with anyone about his or her career, I get an earful of doubts, misgivings, annoyances, and, oftentimes, a nagging sense of futility about the entire enterprise. (And bear with me, the photo to your right will make sense soon enough.) Case in point: yesterday I ran into […]

Read the full article →